Friday, September 9, 2011

A chip off the old Block

Summer of '11 was great because of having our daughter Hanna around. Her enthusiasm for playing banjo inspired by Blue Ridge Mountain masters ie the old-timers,  led Mac to play his fiddle with her several times one on one.  Hanna's ability to learn tunes quickly and play with a driving rhythm has been a mountain music fiddlin father's dream come true.
     We   managed to get around together to some of the local summer music events together.
Elk Creek Fiddler's conventions continued to be a winner for Mac as a last minute entry in the band contest yielded a chance to put our music out into public. Trish Fore, a fine mountain style clawhammer player in her own right, was our band's guitar player.  She backed us up in her signature hard driving style that matched up with our basic 'lick' on fiddle and banjo.  It was good enough to garner us a 3rd place win.  An even bigger honor was to play for the flatfooting contest on Friday night. Grayson County and around the region is such a place  that has such a deep rooted tradition of great music and dancing so reflected in the rural string music documented by  folklorist  who came to find the native music in the 60's and 70's.  As one who learned to play banjo around the fine traditional dancers that frequented the public music venues of the region, Mac seems to have passed on his love for the regional 'sound' of his chosen home area to daughter, Hanna now 24.
        August found us playing in a band called the Mountain Boomers for the Thursday night dance at the annual Clifftop Festival.  Shay Garriock and Mac played twin fiddles  with Hanna, banjo and Rory Mullennex,  son of WVa banjo great  Ron Mullenex on guitar along with Sam Linkous on bass.  It was a memorable experience once again for father and daughter.  A week later Hanna played in her first ever clawhammer banjo contest at the even more famous Galax Fiddler's convention.  A lively rendition of the Hobart Smith tune 'Last Chance' won her 8th place out of the 80 or so contestants and helped introduce her name as a likely 'contender' should she ever play in another contest.
        The last music milestone was to get her to record a few 'mountain' banjo fiddle duets for posterity with her dad in a studio setting just before she left a few days later to begin a new life in the Pacific Northwest, ie: Seattle, Washington.
        She says she'll eventually settle back near us after she gets some things accomplished towards her career of becoming an upper level art teacher following a Master degree from UW.  We'll see.